9 Suitable Double Boiler Substitutes

Double boilers are used for delicate jobs such as melting chocolate. While they’re easily available in cooking supply stores, if you don’t have one on hand, worry less since I am here to provide you with perfect double boiler substitutes.

If you don’t have an actual double boiler in your kitchen, there are some ways to substitute it. This includes using two pots of the same size, using a heatproof bowl and a pot/saucepan, using a bain-marie, using a microwave, using a mason jar, and using a slow cooker.

What Is A Double Boiler

A double boiler is a piece of kitchen equipment that’s used for sensitive cooking tasks like making hollandaise sauce, melting chocolate, and preparing custards such as creme Anglaise. It provides gentle, even heat, preventing delicate foods from scorching.

Since it uses indirect heat from boiling water instead of direct heat from a stovetop, it’s much easier to control the temperature and avoid scorching or burning delicate foods.

Though the name implies the use of two vessels, a double boiler is just one pot with a steamer insert.

A double boiler is a two-part pot consisting of a larger, lower pot and a smaller, upper pot that fits just above it on the same rim. The lower pot is filled with water, which is heated to a simmer. The upper piece is used to melt chocolate or other ingredients that are sensitive to heat and should not come into direct contact with the bottom of the pan.

Most double boilers are made from stainless steel, copper, or aluminum. The idea is to melt ingredients slowly so they don’t burn or get too hot.

Some people use a double boiler when making cheese sauces or custards while others use it when melting chocolate for dipping pretzels or fruit into meals.

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Double boilers are used when a recipe requires gentle, even heating. The contents of the top pot will never come to a hard boil and the steam rising from the bottom pot will gently heat the contents of the top pot

How To Use A Double Broiler

To use a double boiler, fill the bottom pot with a couple of inches of water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Then place your ingredients in the top pot, set it on top of the bottom pot, and allow the steam from the simmering water to cook your ingredients slowly.

Best Double Broiler Substitutes

1. Use Two Pots Of Different Sizes

You can use a substitute for a double boiler by using two pots of different sizes whereby you’ll have to stack the two to get a perfect double broiler alternative.

The top pot should be slightly smaller than the bottom pot so it will fit inside. The top pot shouldn’t touch the water in the bottom pot but should be suspended over it by the rim of the bottom pot for perfect results.

2. Heatproof Bowl And A Pot/Saucepan

If you don’t have a real double boiler, your best bet is to grab a metal bowl and place it on top of a saucepan filled with simmering water. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. we want steam to cook our food here, not boiling water.

To use this makeshift double boiler, fill a saucepan with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place the metal mixing bowl over the top of the saucepan to create a seal.

Place your ingredients in the mixing bowl and stir occasionally until they have melted or mixed.

If needed, add more hot water to the saucepan so that it does not dry out during cooking. Do not let the water boil away or it could burn your ingredients. You can also use this method for making homemade yogurt.

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This setup will work if you need to melt chocolate or use some other type of indirect heat to cook something else, so long as your bowl fits snugly on top of your pot.

If you don’t have a stainless steel bowl, you can also use a glass or ceramic bowl.

3. Use A Bain-Marie

The Bain Marie concept may seem complicated but trust me it’s worth a trial, especially in making desserts with a custard base.

This method involves using a bowl on top of a baking dish with hot boiling water and then placing them in an oven for cooking.

The main difference between the concept of a Bain Marie and a double boiler is that it cooks in a conventional oven and not on a stovetop.

Unlike the other alternatives, Bain Marie keeps your food moist and soft after cooking.

4. Mason Jar

A Mason jar makes a great double boiler substitute when used together with a pot to form a double boiler concept.

Double Boiler Substitute

To use a mason jar instead of a double boiler, fill a pot with water and bring it to a simmer. Remove your jar’s lid and set it aside. After that place the mason jar in the simmering water and there you are.

5. A Slow Cooker

This is another possible alternative that you can use whenever you don’t have a double broiler in your kitchen.

To use a slow cooker in place of a double boiler, fill it with water up to three-quarters and turn on high heat. After the water is hot enough, place a glass bowl of chocolate or any other ingredients you are cooking over it and cook.

6. Use A Colander Or Sieve

Another way is to place a colander or sieve into the bottom pot, fill it with water, and then set your saucepan on top of it like you would with a double boiler.

7. Use An Improvised Lid For Your Pot

Another option is to use an improvised lid for your pot or pan designed with a small hole in it that releases steam as it rises from your food. You’re creating a ventilated lid that lets the steam out while preventing splatters

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8. Coffee Mug

If you’re in a pinch, you can use a coffee mug as a double boiler. Fill the bottom of a large saucepan with water, and then put your mug on top of the pot so that it sits several inches above the water.

Place your chocolate and other ingredients inside the cup, and cover it with a lid.

For this method to work, you’ll want to make sure the water stays at a steady simmer, but not boiling. If it starts to bubble up and overflow, reduce the heat so that it stops.

If you don’t have a lid for your mug, or if your mug isn’t large enough for everything to fit comfortably inside, you can use aluminum foil instead of a lid.

Just make sure that it doesn’t touch any of the chocolate or other ingredients in the cup.

9. A Microwave

Using a microwave instead of a double boiler may sound crazy but it can be a perfect choice if you need to melt a small piece of chocolate especially if you are using a convection microwave.

Microwaves may burn your food, therefore, it’s important to keenly monitor your mixture as it cooks to prevent it from burning. To be on the safe side, occasionally take your mixture out of the microwave and mix while cooking.

Using microwaves instead of a double boiler can be tricky since it heats ingredients rapidly as compared to a double boiler therefore it should always be your last option.


Double boilers are thoughtfully designed pieces of equipment. The steam in the bottom pot helps keep the temperature consistent, while the top pan is suspended above any hot spots on your stovetop burners. This makes them perfect for making homemade candy, too.

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